Mora Recreation Area

Pecos River Habitat and Riparian Restoration at Mora Recreation Area (2012 & 2013)

Area Description

The Pecos River within Pecos Canyon is New Mexico’s best cold water fishery. The Mora Recreation area is located on NM highway 63 approximately 16 miles north of  the Village of Pecos.
This stretch of the Pecos River is within the “Recreational Segment” of the Pecos Wild and Scenic River. It is an extremely popular area for camping and other outdoor activities and is the most heavily fished stretch of the Pecos in Pecos Canyon.

UPWA Mora Restoration Project - Pecos River
UPWA Mora Restoration Project – Pecos River post restoration

The property is presently owned and managed by NMDG&F, however it has been designated as part of Pecos Canyon State Park and management is in transition to NM Parks.

Problem Focus

This area has been subjected to extreme overuse and abuse for many decades.  There was an overabundance of riffle habitat in the Mora Recreation Area. Previous studies have identified this area as having significant environmental damage as a result of completely unregulated dispersed camping and other recreational activities including Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV).

Mora Recreation Area project restoration
Mora Recreation Area project restoration

The project installed rock structures to develop pools, existing pools were deepened, and fill from these excavations were used to create bank-full benches that were planted with willows, cottonwoods, or other native shrubs/trees.




Pollutants in the project area were caused by:
  1. Stream geomorphology:  Heavy fishing use and even the operation of OHVs in the stream bed itself have resulted in shallowing of the stream, elimination of pools, and reduced trout habitat.
  2. Removal of riparian vegetation, loss of riparian habitat:  Removal of riparian vegetation and loss of riparian habitat have resulted from abuse from unregulated recreational activities.
  3. Stream bank modification or destabilization: Stream bank destabilization has occurred  with the removal and loss of riparian vegetation caused by camping, trampling, or off road vehicles

Goals of the Project

The goal of this project was to restore a short stretch of the stream to demonstrate to the public the effectiveness of stream restoration, and serve as a precursor for extensive habitat restoration in the Upper Pecos River. Specific and measurable goals include:

  • Temperature Reduction: to be measured by pre and post project monitoring
  • Turbidity Reduction to be measured by pre and post project monitoring
  • Improved trout population and size: to be measured by pre and post project electro fishing studies.

Educational Component

UPWA in partnership with Truchas Chapter Trout Unlimited collaborated on maximizing educational benefits using UPWA & TU established and ongoing educational outreach programs in the Pecos Middle and High Schools, including “Trout in the Classroom”.  Educational components will include:

  • Pre-project briefing, including purpose, process and expected results plus site visit.
  • Construction field trip
  • Participation in post construction monitoring and electro fishing studies

Project Partners

  • New Mexico Department of Game & Fish: In kind contributions including assistance with electro-fishing studies, permitting and construction.
  • New Mexico State Parks :  In kind contributions including Landscape Architect design services.
  • Truchas Chapter of Trout Unlimited: Volunteer assistance with Educational Outreach, riparian area cleanup, re-vegetation and electro-fishing studies.
  • New Mexico Environment Dept. Surface Water Quality Bureau:  In kind contributions including permitting, assistance with water quality monitoring.

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